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How to fit an English bridle to your horse

A well-fitted bridle can help make a happier horse and reduce behavior and training problems.

August 10, 2011

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Hunter show horse
A properly fitted bridle will be comfortable and look good on your horse. Photo: Leslie Potter
Edited Press Release

Properly fitting a bridle may not be as difficult as fitting a saddle, but there are some key tips you should keep in mind. “When we fit bridles for pros like Louise Serio, Scott Stewart, and Anne Kursinski, it’s critical that we create a look that shows off each horse,” explains Rebecca Bisilliat, co-owner of Arc de Triomphe. Follow these basic rules for fitting a bridle and you will create the same top-notch, winning look for your horse.

Browbands
Brow bands that are properly fitted will place the crown piece comfortably behind the ear base. If it’s too small, it will rub the horse behind the ears. If it’s too big, the brow band will gap in the center of the horse’s forehead, or hang down over the horse’s eyes.

Cheekpieces & Buckle Adjustments
Cheekpieces are a crucial part of the bridle for both functionality and aesthetics. With regards to functionality, the cheekpieces place the bit in the proper position. When cheeks are adjusted correctly, there will be a wrinkle or two in the corners of the horses’ mouth.

Buckles that are properly adjusted create a pleasing look. When the cheekpieces are adjusted correctly, the buckles lie next to, or within one inch above, the horse’s eye. If they are in any other position, they are the wrong size for that horse. Longer cheekpieces can be made shorter; however, before you decide to have them altered, ask if you can purchase this part separately.

Throatlatches
Throatlatches have only one function: to prevent the bridle from coming off the horse’s head. Proper adjustment means the throatlatch allows the throat to expand when the head is properly flexed. If it’s too loose it will not perform its intended function. You should be able to fit your closed fist between the leather and the horse’s throat.

Nosebands
Generally, nosebands should be placed two fingers width below the cheekbones, depending upon the size of the bit ring. If the bit ring is large, then the noseband should be placed higher. The cheek leather should rest about a half inch behind the cheekbone. A standard, or non-crank, noseband should encircle the horse’s head and allow you to slip two fingers between the jaw and the leather. For a crank noseband, tighten it completely without making the horse uncomfortable.

Each of the English disciplines including hunter, jumper, dressage, eventing, foxhunting, trail, and endurance, has their own style of tack and dress. “If you are showing, it is imperative to be aware of the different traditions so you can look the part. And you’ll need to know the equipment requirements for each discipline by doing some research within the USEF rule book,” advises Bissilat.

Further Reading
Tack Fit
Video: English Saddle Fit

ADT offers more than 25 styles of stocked and custom bridles to make your horse shine. For more information please visit www.ADTtack.com.

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Reader Comments

Emma    New Carlisle, OH

11/11/2011 10:16:41 AM

Loved the article...very helpful!

Mackenzie    Douglass, KS

8/17/2011 12:57:03 PM

It's ironic i saw this today, because yesterday me and my mom decided to start looking for and english bridle for the horse i am leasing(i ride her english but she's ridden in a western bridle)and this really helps! i can say it does help to have a bridle that fits correctly because yesterday i found out the western bridle wasn't adjusted the way it should have been.

Galadriel    Lothlorien, ME

8/10/2011 11:05:59 PM

I can vouch from experience that a well fitting bridle makes a world of difference. I started riding my horse with a western bridle and bit that were too small for him. I finally got an english bridle that fit perfectly and his behaviour improved dramatically and instantaneously!

PKL    somewhere, WY

8/10/2011 6:19:50 AM

Good teaching article

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